If William Faulkner had mastered gumbo, his recipe probably would have been featured in The Great American Writers’ Cookbook. It was, after all, written by his niece Dean Faulkner Wells. Bill Faulkner knew his way around the kitchen, though, and had a family recipe for cured pork and a reputation for good ham and North Carolina barbecue.
According to the docent at Rowan Oak, the famous writer’s home turned museum, his
favorite dish was pink salmon coquettes made from the recipe on the back of the can. Yet when dining on the town, Faulkner favored barbecue chicken and peach cobbler, according to a server at The Mansion, his favorite restaurant in downtown Oxford, Mississippi. The Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist dined there often, even the night he died. According James Dickerson, who wrote Last Suppers, Faulkner ate filet mignon, baked potato and green salad there the night he died. Maybe he should have had the chicken. Or gumbo.
An avid hunter and outdoorsman, Faulkner, liked dove. He once told of his housekeeper-cook who refused to clean and cook the doves he bagged because doves carry men’s souls to heaven. He went on a wild boar hunt while working on a movie script and living at The Beverly Hills Hotel. He also hunted deer, and made an annual pilgrimage to the deer camp. According to Sporting Classics, Faulkner was at the deer camp in 1950, when the newspaper broke the story he had won the Nobel Prize. The other hunters congratulated him with a meal of “coons and collards,” one of his favorite dishes.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Faulkner had cooked the gumbo I recommend – venison. It’ll be a favorite with the guys at the deer camp.
By the way, Dean Faulkner Wells does include her uncle’s recipe for a whiskey Hot Toddy recipe in her cookbook. He served it to “patients” on a silver tray. Perhaps he learned to make it when living in New Orleans as a young writer — that’s when his breakfast diet consisted of corn liquor with beignets.